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Marie Chatel


Studying the "Manual of Section": Architecture's Most Intriguing Drawing

For Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki and David J. Lewis, the section “is often understood as a reductive drawing type, produced at the end of the design process to depict structural and material conditions in service of the construction contract.” A definition that will be familiar to most of those who have studied or worked in architecture at some point. We often think primarily of the plan, for it allows us to embrace the programmatic expectations of a project and provide a summary of the various functions required. In the modern age, digital modelling software programs offer ever more possibilities when it comes to creating complex three dimensional objects, making the section even more of an afterthought.

With their Manual of Section (2016), the three founding partners of LTL architects engage with section as an essential tool of architectural design, and let’s admit it, this reading might change your mind on the topic. For the co-authors, “thinking and designing through section requires the building of a discourse about section, recognizing it as a site of intervention.” Perhaps, indeed, we need to understand the capabilities of section drawings both to use them more efficiently and to enjoy doing so.

Bagsværd Church by Jørn Utzon (1976). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsNotre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier (1954). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsUnited States Pavilion at Expo '67 by Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao (1967). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image Courtesy of LTL ArchitectsThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright (1959). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image Courtesy of LTL Architects+ 15

Spotlight: Sverre Fehn

1997 Pritzker Prize laureate Sverre Fehn (August 14th 1924 – February 23rd 2009) was a leader in Post World War II Scandinavian architecture. “His work has an intuitive confidence in how to use the Nordic landscape and its particular light conditions within the built culture, and yet throughout his career each period has reflected a refined sensitivity to international changes and attitudes in architecture,” said his close collaborator Per Olaf Fjeld. “It can be compared to a poetic work conceived on an isolated mountain by a writer with an uncanny, intuitive sense of what is going on in the towns below.” [1]

Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena

Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh

As founder of the “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (born on June 22, 1967) is perhaps the most socially-engaged architect to receive the Pritzker Prize. Far from the usual aesthetically driven approach, Aravena explains that “We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.” [1] For Aravena, the architect’s primary goal is to improve people's way of life by assessing both social needs and human desires, as well as political, economic and environmental issues.

Spotlight: Smiljan Radić

Mainly known outside of his home country for his design of the 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, architect Smiljan Radić (born June 21, 1965) is one of the most prominent figures in current Chilean architecture. With a distinctive approach to form, materials, and natural settings, Radić mostly builds small- to medium-sized projects that flirt with the notion of fragility.

2014 Serpentine Pavilion. Image © Danica O. KusCopper House 2. Image © Smiljan RadicMestizo Restaurant. Image © Smiljan RadicZwing Bus Stop. Image © Yuri PALMIN+ 13

Photographer Raphael Olivier Explores the Suspended Reality of North Korea’s Socialist Architecture

North Korea is one of the few countries still under communist rule, and probably the most isolated and unknown worldwide. This is a result of the philosophy of Juche – a political system based on national self-reliance which was partly influenced by principles of Marxism and Leninism.

In recent years though, the country has loosened its restrictions on tourism, allowing access to a limited number of visitors. With his personal photo series “North Korea – Vintage Socialist Architecture,” French photographer Raphael Olivier reports on Pyongyang’s largely unseen architectural heritage. ArchDaily interviewed Olivier about the project, the architecture he captured, and what he understood of North Korea’s architecture and way of life.

The Workers Party Foundation Monument . Image © Raphael OlivierPyongyang International Cinema House. Image © Raphael OlivierPyongyang Ice Rink . Image © Raphael OlivierOverpass. Image © Raphael Olivier+ 21

Playhouses For Charity: How One Architect's Design Competition Raises Money For Neglected Children

Have you ever thought of designing a house that is 8-foot cubed? It's unlikely, unless you've been involved in Dallas CASA’s event “Parade of Playhouses.” For 25 years, the association has asked architects, designers and builders to conceive, construct, and donate playhouses to raise funds for abused and neglected children. Each year, the playhouses are displayed in Northpark Mall – Dallas’ main “cultural centre” – where people can buy $5 raffle tickets to win one of the playhouses exhibited.

Architect Bob Borson conceived his first two playhouses for Dallas CASA in 2009, before starting his popular blog Life of an Architect and subsequently launching “The Life of An Architect Design Competition.” The idea came in 2010 when a great number of architects suffered from the economic crisis. As Borson explains: “I could have a playhouse design competition open to other architects so that they could remain connected to the architectural profession.” This also required Borson to raise money and find builders to construct the designs. “I have always covered all the expenses so that the competition would remain free to enter – the playhouses were for charity and it seemed like the right thing to do,” reflected Borson.

“Love & Peace” Playhouse, Mashrur Dewan (2016). Image Courtesy of The Life of an Architect“Lookout” Playhouse, Zach George and Taylor Proctor (2016). Image Courtesy of The Life of an Architect“Say Cheese!” Playhouse, Manuel Millán (2016). Image Courtesy of The Life of an Architect“Continuous Window” Playhouse, Toda Junya (2016) . Image Courtesy of The Life of an Architect+ 58

11 Historical Examples of How to Design Doorways, as Selected by Sketchfab

Our friends at Sketchfab have noticed a recurring trend: among the many 3D scans shared on their platform, a significant number are of historical doorways. Often neglected in today’s designs, doors and doorways are essential physical and mental transition points between the interior and the exterior of a building. While Mies van der Rohe’s strive for visual continuity and the use of glass doors has some critical advantages, it is not applicable – or only poorly applicable – to every design case. Fortunately, history shows that visually and spatially differentiating doors and doorways from the rest of a facade can be a resourceful alternative.

With this set of 3D models selected by Sketchfab, viewers can explore historical doorways online and discover the spatial sequences that they can offer. From framed, indented, raised, lowered, protruding and ornamented doors, these models clearly showcase the various design strategies available for you to keep your doorway design options open.

Could Development Hoardings Be the New “Canvas for London”?

Walking next to a construction site is anything but enjoyable. Unavoidable noise (and sometimes air) pollution is partly responsible, but development hoardings also contribute to the unpleasant feeling. In most cases you walk alongside blank canvases, made from OSB or poorly built plywood boxes, and covered with a concrete grey or navy blue Dulux paint. If you’re lucky enough to pass by a development for luxury apartments, you’ll find some lavish advertising for the homes which, of course, you couldn’t afford anyway. With her blog “Development Aesthetics,” Crystal Bennes gives credit to the visual importance of hoardings, showcasing London’s latest construction sites and commentating on the inadequacy and often absurdity of the advertising on their hoardings. As apartment blocks mushroom around the British capital, the issue increasingly affects inhabitants’ use and understanding of public spaces.

Hoping to turn this trend around, the UK-based construction, architectural and engineering firm Primebuild has launched its "Canvas for London" Initiative, using construction site hoardings as platforms for artists to display their work.

Courtesy of PrimebuildCourtesy of PrimebuildCourtesy of PrimebuildCourtesy of Primebuild+ 8

This Floating Desalination Megastructure is Designed to Combat California's Water Shortages

California is suffering through its 5th year of severe water shortage. Aquifers and rivers continue to dry out as the water provided by melting snowpacks is reduced, and even the heavy rain brought by El Niño this year could not relieve the drought. Authorities are wary of the long-term consequences for California and neighboring areas of the Colorado River, and Santa Monica is now seeing a growing number of initiatives to control the use of potable water and find sustainable solutions.

Most recently, a competition asked architects, artists and scientists to conceive sustainable infrastructure projects to improve Santa Monica’s water supply. Bart//Bratke and studioDE developed a raft structure named “Foram” that illustrates the future of floating platforms in sustainable development.

Night View from the Coast. Image Courtesy of Bart//BratkeAerial Coast Assembly. Image Courtesy of Bart//BratkePavilion Alignment. Image Courtesy of Bart//BratkeInterior of the Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Bart//Bratke+ 15

Pezo von Ellrichshausen Discuss Their Philosophy of Human-Scaled Architecture

For Mauricio Pezo and Sofía Von Ellrichshausen, the architect's job is about much more than dealing with functional issues, as well as social issues, sustainability, and safety. “Of course architecture from its very essence is solving problems, and the problems constantly change,” says von Ellrichshausen in this interview with The Architectural Review outside their Vara Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. “But probably the life span of architecture is many times larger than the problem that it addresses initially. Therefore we think of architecture more in terms of this larger span and hopefully it might embody a set of values and not necessarily propose a solution.”

Vara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Laurian GhinitoiuVara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Laurian GhinitoiuVara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image Courtesy of Pezo von EllrichshausenVara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu+ 4

Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.

Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana AhmadiMetabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana AhmadiVery Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / ZuloarkVery Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark+ 25

Buckminster Fuller’s Daughter Shares Her Father’s Best Lessons

It is the relation between the mind, which Bucky so often talked about, and experience or experiencing that I found to be the key that unlocks his work and inspired my own.

As Buckminster Fuller explained in an 1965 interview with Studs Terkel, his relationship with his daughter was very close. Now, in a previously-unpublished essay written in 1995, the daughter of "Bucky" Allegra Fuller Snyder has shared her father’s best lessons with Metropolis Magazine - explaining how she has adopted her father's approach to learning and understanding the world. Both of them engaged in “experiencing” the living environment, “involving one’s whole self, not being present at, or observing, something, but “doing” that thing.”

18 Useful Research Resources for Architects Online

For those of us that aren’t based out of a university—and even for many who are—finding research resources that cover the topic you're interested in can be a challenge. But they can be found, and thanks to the internet your search no longer needs to be limited to nearby libraries. In fact, many world-renowned libraries and magazines are now working to digitize important parts of their collection, while a number of online organizations have sprung up with missions to improve access to information. To help you identify some of the most useful, we’ve put together a list of 18 free websites that offer scholarly articles, publications, photos, videos, and much more.

Places Journal Examines Post-Katrina Architecture in New Orleans

The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can never be forgotten, but 10 years after the rebuilding of New Orleans started in 2006, a new architecture has emerged with cutting-edge designs being widely celebrated in the media. The Make It Right foundation (founded after the disaster to help with structural recovery) commissioned first-class architects such as Morphosis, Shigeru Ban, and David Adjaye to design safe and sustainable houses for New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. But Richard Campanella and Cassidy Rosen worry that this vision is detached from reality.

Seoul's Dramatic "New Towns" Are Captured in this Photoset by Manuel Alvarez Diestro

As Seoul’s population boomed, apartment blocks became commonplace. Photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro spent 6 months exploring the city’s new towns, aiming to “reveal in visual terms the expansive nature of urbanization and the transformation of the landscape through the construction of these new housing developments of massive scale.”

© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro© Manuel Alvarez Diestro+ 15

8 Projects that Exemplify Moscow's Urban Movement

When it comes to urbanism these days, people’s attention is increasingly turning to Moscow. The city clearly intends to become one of the world’s leading megacities in the near future and is employing all necessary means to achieve its goal, with the city government showing itself to be very willing to invest in important urban developments (though not without some criticism).

A key player in this plan has been the Moscow Urban Forum. Although the forum’s stated goal is to find adequate designs for future megacities, a major positive side-effect is that it enables the city to organize the best competitions, select the best designers, and build the best urban spaces to promote the city of Moscow. The Forum also publishes research and academic documents to inform Moscow’s future endeavors; for example, Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication inspired by the 2013 forum and released in 2014, notably influenced the urban development on the outskirts of Moscow, but also highlighted the importance of combining urban development with the existing landscape.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art / OMA. Image © Yuri PalminMoscow Riverfront / Project Meganom. Image Courtesy of Project MeganomNovoperedelkino Subway Station / U-R-A. Image Courtesy of U-R-A | United Riga ArchitectsLuzhniki Stadium. Image © Flickr user bbmexplorer licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0+ 43

"DIY For Architects": This Parametric Brick Facade Was Built Using Traditional Craft Techniques

With their latest facade construction, Iranian architecture firm Sstudiomm explores the potential that brick can offer by utilizing parametric architecture. Instead of relying on unique construction elements for assembly on-site at a later date, in their new project (called, in full, "Negative Precision. On-Site Fabrication of a Parametric Brick Facade // A DIY for Architects") the firm considers how a simple mass-produced element like the brick can be assembled in unique ways by taking advantage of digital technology. While firms like Gramazio Kohler have already developed industrial methods of assembling brickwork following parametric designs, Sstudiomm aims for a more lo-fi approach, creating parametric brick walls using little more than the traditional construction methods found in Iran and a dose of ingenuity.

Courtesy of SstudiommCourtesy of SstudiommCourtesy of SstudiommCourtesy of Sstudiomm+ 17

Pompeii’s Most Famous House, the Villa of Mysteries, is at Risk of Collapse

One of Pompeii’s most precious gems, the Villa of Mysteries, is now at risk of collapse due to seismic activity in the Bay of Naples, as well as vibrations from a nearby train line transporting tourists. That's the conclusion of a recent study conducted by Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). The news comes only a few months after the reopening of the house, whose stunning frescoes had just been restored.

As The Telegraph reports, the high-tech study showed that “in addition to the vibrations from the Vesuvius light railway commuter trains, which ferry tourists to Pompeii from Naples, the protective structure around the villa, built in armored cement, wood and steel 50 years ago is threatened by its own weight and water ingress.”

© Lure [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons© User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons© User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons© User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons+ 15